DALTON SHOWDOWN Recall takes out mayor, two others

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  • LOREN BENOIT/Press Dalton Gardens Mayor Steve Roberge and City Council Member Jamie Smith stand across from the polling station at Church of Christ in Dalton Gardens during Tuesday’s election.

  • 1

    Crandall

  • 2

    Myers

  • 3

    Lundy

  • 4

    Jordan

  • LOREN BENOIT/Press Dalton Gardens Mayor Steve Roberge and City Council Member Jamie Smith stand across from the polling station at Church of Christ in Dalton Gardens during Tuesday’s election.

  • 1

    Crandall

  • 2

    Myers

  • 3

    Lundy

  • 4

    Jordan

COEUR d'ALENE — The Dalton Gardens recall vote was split on city officials on Tuesday.

Patrons voted to recall Mayor Steve Roberge and council members Denise Lundy and Joe Myers.

Council members Scott Jordan and Jamie Smith will retain their seats.

"(The city officials) were looked at by the voters individually, not as an entire group," said Jeff Crandall, among the Save Dalton volunteers in support of the recall. "There were different experiences and histories with each of the five, and that was reflected in the results."

To recall the officials, two voting scenarios needed to happen. The majority of the total votes on each official needed to be in favor of recalling the individual, and the number of votes in favor of the recall had to be equal to or greater than the number of votes they received when they were elected.

The voting for each official went as follows:

• Roberge, 533 in favor of the recall, 461 opposed to the recall (345 votes was the election threshold);

• Jordan, 463 in favor, 526 opposed (337 election threshold);

• Lundy, 508 in favor, 478 opposed (122 election threshold);

• Myers, 511 in favor, 479 opposed (110 election threshold); and

• Smith 479 in favor, 512 oppose (418 election threshold).

Roberge said he had a gut feeling on Tuesday that the city officials would retain their seats.

"This was a very divisive thing that happened to our community, but this is the democratic process," he said while waving a sign on his property across from the polling station at the Church of Christ. "It's been a very emotional issue."

The recall proponents, meanwhile, organized near the roundabout at Fourth and Hanley.

"We're really happy with the support and encouragement we received from the community," said Crandall. "We had more than 400 people sign the petition just to place this on the ballot. We felt really happy about the success."

Crandall said the group believed voter turnout would be critical if they were going to have a chance at the recall being successful.

There was a huge turnout in Dalton, with nearly 1,000 of the 1,641 total registered voters casting a ballot. That’s almost two-thirds.

"We felt optimistic based on the feedback we were getting, but you never really know what people will do when they walk into the privacy of a voting booth," Crandall said. "We were optimistic and encouraged about what we saw and heard, but also reserved about the outcome. The key to our success was the turnout.

"It wasn't easy, but kudos to the citizens for engaging in the process. On a cold, wintry day their voice was heard."

Crandall said the group believed that having the recall on a March ballot was also an uphill battle because that election typically doesn't draw as many voters.

The officials will hold their seats until the votes are made official by Kootenai County commissioners next week.

Crandall said Smith and Jordan will now lead the charge in appointing the three replacements. The newcomers will retain those seats until the November election.

The city seats were on the line after some residents accused them of violating city ordinances by making a deal with a local family allowing a four-home development on a 5-acre meadow. The deal, recall proponents say, flew in the face of a city code prohibiting home building without public street frontage. Recall proponents believe it could set a precedent in a city known for its sparse development on big, rural-style lots.

Crandall said the recall proponents have called on officials to be more transparent and accountable. He said he believes the recall effort made a difference in that regard even before Tuesday's vote.

"We believe we've made some in-roads in the community and a positive change," Crandall said.

City officials, however, say the land deal was mediated after the family involved threatened to sue the city. They stood by their decision to allow the development.

"We've got a great council who cares about their community," Roberge said.

The officials were given the option of resigning during a five-day period in December after the petition was validated, but none gave up their seats.

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